A former Trade Minister of Ghana, Alan John Kyerematen, has announced he will contest the 2024 Presidential election as an independent candidate.
The NPP is heading to the polls on November 4, 2023, to elect the successor of President Nana Akufo-Addo, whose term ends on January 7, 2024.
A total of 10 men expressed interest in leading the NPP to retain power at the crucial 2024 General Elections.
The rest were a former Agriculture Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, a former Minister for Railway Development, Joe Ghartey, CEO of FKP & RALD Investment Limited, Kwadwo Poku, and a former NPP General Secretary, Kwabena Agyapong.
Selecting five candidates out of 10
Despite the show of interest by these men, the NPP constitution provides for only five competing candidates, one of whom would be selected to lead the party.
Article 13 (9) of the NPP Constitution provides a Special Electoral College system for electing five candidates in case more people express interest.
“Where there are more than five candidates for nomination as the Party’s Presidential Candidate, a Special Electoral College shall cast their votes by secret ballot for the first five contestants to be short-listed,” Article 13(9) of the NPP Constitution says.
The NPP introduced the Special Electoral College system in 2016 in reaction to the incidents that characterized the party’s presidential primary in 2007, which saw 17 candidates competing for the top job.
The NPP Council of Elders Chairperson, Hackman Owusu Agyemang, believes they lost the 2008 General Elections because of the vast number of people who had wanted to lead the party.
“That was a major mistake… If at the time we had the understanding that it will not help us and the best thing to do was to have one or two compete for it, we would not have lost that  election,” the former legislator told Accra-based Citi FM in 2021.
The NPP’s Super Delegates Conference was held on August 26, 2023, with 956 delegates participating in the poll to trim the 10 aspirants to five.
The special polls took place in all 16 regional capitals and the party headquarters in Accra, with the Electoral Commission headquarters as the final collation centre.
He was followed by Mr. Agyapong with 132 votes (14.3%), Mr. Kyerematen with 95 votes (10.29%), and Dr. Afriyie Akoto emerging fourth with 36 votes (3.9%).
Mr Addai-Nimoh and Mr Agyarko had nine votes each, representing 0.98%, leaving them to contend for the fifth position in a special run-off.
“I refuse to be a part of such an act that seeks to unjustly truncate a previously agreed upon process and cannot be part of what is about to be done on Saturday, 2nd September 2023.
I cannot, with a clear conscience, make such an impermissible concession to such an errant decision. I, therefore, respectfully, serve this notice to refrain from such a contest,” the economist said in a letter dated August 31, 2023.
The unexpected withdrawal by Alan Cash
Mr Kyerematen is a household name going into the November 4, 2023, presidential primary because he had previously contested for the party’s flagbearer position three consecutive times in 2007, 2010, and 2014. The 2023 NPP presidential primaries will be his fourth time.
With barely two months to the party’s presidential primaries, Mr. Kyerematen withdrew from the race.
“I wish to confirm that I am honourably withdrawing from the process that will lead to the Presidential Primaries to be held on the 4th of November 2023,” he announced in a statement dated September 5, 2023.
Mr Kyerematen says his decision was based on the incidents that greeted the party’s Super Delegates Conference in August, where five contestants were selected out of the 10 aspirants.
“The level of intimidation of varying intensity, directly and indirectly, unleashed on a significant number of Delegates at various Voting Centers across the sixteen regions, is unprecedented in the history of our party,” he said.
“In addition, the fact that my Polling Agent in the North East region has suffered severe damage to his eyesight, arising from his bold and courageous effort to ensure compliance with the very rules and regulations for the conduct of the elections…will forever remain a dark spot in the history of internal elections within the Party,” he added.
While it accepted Mr Kyerematen’s decision to withdraw from the party’s presidential primaries, some reports here, here, here, here, and here showed the NPP rejected some of the claims the former Trade minister anchored his decision on.
“His decision to withdraw is not something the party is happy about…but this is his personal decision he has taken. I think he has the constitutional right to do so, and we take it in good faith,” a Deputy General Secretary of NPP, Haruna Mohammed said.
“The party disagrees that it has skewed the election because the provisions of the party clearly indicate those who are supposed to be delegates to the elections. The delegates to the election have been predetermined,” he continued.
Reaction to Alan’s withdrawal
Media reports show (here, here, and here) that Mr Kyerematen’s decision to withdraw from the race has divided opinion in Ghana. While the lawyer has received backing from some Ghanaians for his decision, others believe he should not have stepped down.
The Greater Accra Campaign Coordinator for the Alan Kyerematen campaign team, Sylvester Tetteh, registered his disappointment with the decision taken by the former Trade minister.
“I’m disappointed in his decision; however, I respect his opinion. I know several people who are equally disappointed. People have been wailing all over the country,” Mr Tetteh, Member of Parliament for Bortianor-Ngleshie Amanfrom, told Accra-based Citi FM.
“I will urge every supporter and sympathiser of Alan’s campaign not to be disturbed. They should be guided by the single principles of the NPP in winning the 2024 polls,” he added.
But the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, believes Mr Kyerematen’s withdrawal from the NPP presidential primaries “is a good thing.”
“Now, because of the withdrawal, it is possible that most of the people in Alan’s camp will join Bawumia, and some will join the other aspirants,” he told Accra-based Neat FM.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the competitive nature of the presidential primaries “divided” the NPP, explaining that “some people supported Alan with a genuine heart because they felt he was the best bet to lead the party.”
Alan’s resignation from the NPP
In a latest twist that has shocked many Ghanaians, Mr Kyerematen has announced his “immediate” resignation from the NPP.
“I wish to use this platform to announce that I am honourably resigning with immediate effect from the New Patriotic Party to contest for the high office of the President of the Republic of Ghana in the 2024 General Elections, as an Independent Presidential Candidate,” he said at a press briefing held on September 25, 2023.
The lawyer cited “attacks directed at his supporters,” monetization, and certain unmeritorious and unconstitutional decisions taken by the party’s National Council as some of the reasons responsible for his decision.
“The NPP as it exists now has very little resemblance to the Party that I joined in 1992 and helped to nurture. The Party has been hijacked by a selected group of Party leaders and elders, government appointees, “behind the curtain power brokers” and some unscrupulous Party apparatchiks,” he added.
Mr. Kyerematen’s announcement appears to be a replay of what happened in 2008 when he was reported to have resigned from the party after losing the presidential primaries to President Akufo-Addo.
Some major media organisations, including the Daily Graphic and Daily Guide, reported on the resignation of the former Trade minister from the NPP in 2008.
“A failed presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Alan Kyerematen, has resigned from the party,” Accra-based Myjoyonline reported on April 17, 2008.
However, Mr Kyerematen claimed the factors that led to his decision to resign from the NPP in 2008 are still present in the party.
“It is abundantly clear to me that my services and contributions to the Party are not appreciated, and that my continuous stay in the Party will create further tension and division, which is an exact replay of circumstances that led to my decision to resign from the Party in 2008,” the economist said.
Contesting as independent candidate in 2024
Mr. Kyerematen has said that he will contest for the high office of the President of Ghana in the 2024 General elections as an independent candidate.
His long-held ambition since 1996, when he first hatched the idea of contesting for the flagbearer of the NPP, is to serve as the President of Ghana.
“I believe I have served my country well and intend to continue to do so,” the economist told Ghanaians.
“To actualise this goal, I will establish and lead a new MOVEMENT FOR CHANGE in Ghana. The brand logo for the MOVEMENT is the Monarch Butterfly, which politically symbolizes change and transformation, hope, and positivity,” he said.
The former Trade minister noted the new Movement would be “led and powered by the youth of Ghana,” who, out of the over 17 million registered voters in the 2020 general elections, constituted about 9.4 million voters.
“I believe, with unwavering conviction, that I am the only leader who, with unmatched integrity, can guarantee the economic and industrial transformation of Ghana, the restoration of confidence in political leadership, and the unification of an increasingly divided nation,” Mr Kyerematen said.
As a symbol for his new Independent movement, Alan Kyeremanten chose a monarch butterfly representing a break from the party he has been with for decades. His choice of a butterfly has piqued the interest of many. Hailed as a king of butterflies, the monarch butterfly is noted for its stunning beauty and elegance. His choice of a butterfly symbolizes a cycle of political rigor and the readiness to take on the challenges of the highest office, as is demonstrated by the cycle of eggs, larvae, and the adult butterfly.
Mr Kyerematen’s chances in 2024
Since it was ushered into democratic rule in 1992, Ghana’s presidency has rotated between the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The independent presidential candidates who participated in the past elections were unsuccessful in annexing the seat from the two dominant political parties.
With this background, the prospects of Mr. Kyerematen as an independent presidential candidate in the 2024 General election are unpredictable.
Whereas a section of Ghanaians believe he has the chance of becoming Ghana’s first democratically elected independent presidential candidate, others believe he will suffer the fate of those before him.
A Political scientist, Dr Richard Amoako Baah told Kumasi-based Nhyira FM that Mr Kyerematen “could win the 2024 presidential election” if he did the needed work.
“Alan would look like a better choice for the people since they have not experienced him ruling before,” he said.
Prof. Ransford Gyampo of the University of Ghana expressed similar sentiments in an interview with DUBAWA.
“I think it depends on how his campaign is going to go. None of the independent candidates has the credibility and pedigree of Alan Kyerematen. He will not be just like any of the previous independent candidates. Alan has the following and can make an impact in the elections. His candidature will be much ado about nothing. If you are a wise politician, you will begin to take measures to minimize his damage,” Prof Gyampo stated.
However, a founding member of the NPP, Dr Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe, has expressed doubts about the chances of Mr Kyerematen in 2024.
He told Accra-based Joy FM that Mr Kyerematen cannot become president of Ghana if he contests the election as an independent candidate.
“He [Mr. Kyerematen] says the movement belongs to the youth. Now, if you have the minds of the youth, they would have seen it long ago,” Dr Nyaho-Tamakloe said.
Results of past elections released by Ghana’s Electoral Commission have shown that while some independent presidential candidates did not make any good impressions, others did far better.
With months away from the start of campaign activities ahead of the 2024 General elections, it is too early to determine Mr Kyerematen’s chances.